A new paradigm of 'Sarkar'
The controversy-plagued Tamil movie attacks the unethical electoral practices prevalent in society
The electoral process has begun in India to constitute the next Lok Sabha. In this context, a controversial film in Tamil draws the Election Commission's attention. Sarkar (Government) is a Tamil movie acted by Vijay a popular, young and leading actor in Tamil Nadu and directed by Murugadoss. It was released on the day of Deepavali. Within a few days of its release, one of the ministers of the AIADMK government criticised that the film showed AIADMK and its leaders in a bad light and demanded the removal of those scenes. Cadres of AIADMK organised protest meetings in front of the cinema houses all over Tamil Nadu. Within a few days, the objectionable scenes as indicated by the AIADMK government were removed. The controversy and agitations created curiosity among the ordinary viewers and consequently, the film gained much popularity. If viewed with a sensible perspective, people will come to a conclusion that it is an effective film to be screened in every village, every street and municipalities to create awareness among the voters about the significance of the ballot paper and how it could be used for the benefit of people. This film can be recommended by the Election Commission of India to be screened all over the country in different languages. Apart from the importance of the ballot paper, it throws light on how the centralised system of party control has to be replaced with an alternative system of decentralised people-centric evolutionary politics to bring accountability on the part of elected representatives.
Further, how valuable citizens have been reduced as voters by the political parties, as beneficiaries by the government, as petitioners by the bureaucracy, and as customers and consumers by the market has been emotionally explained in this film. People are the primary agents to bringing transformation in society and politics but in reality, they are the most disrespected individuals in the society by the political and bureaucratic class of India. The film has brought to light the decentralised model of politics to cleanse the corrupt government, administration, and politics. This has been suggested by the Gorwal Committee at the dawn of independence in the Indian National Congress to search for talented committed social workers for the party to contest in the general election on behalf of the party. In this film, it has been portrayed that best service-minded social workers can be involved in politics from different fields and nominated to contest the election, through which diverse professionals could be inducted into the policy-making system.
There is yet another message powerfully conveyed to the people that raising questions is the hallmark of democracy. In our democracy, questioning is totally prohibited in the name of discipline in all democratic institutions. In this film, it has been highlighted that without raising questions, equality cannot be achieved and democracy will not mature. All these messages have been communicated through the actor Vijay through the powerful dialogues in this film.
In the electoral process of a democracy, if a party gets a huge majority by weakening the opposition party in terms of its strength, it is not a victory for democracy. This aspect has been convincingly scripted and communicated through the powerful dialogues in the movie. It is a political movie with hard ideas communicated in a simple way. It is a highly educative movie.
The dialogues scripted for the film criticised both the Dravidian parties and not only AIADMK. Then why the AIADMK ministers alone have raised objections and demanded the removal of a few scenes in the movie. They assumed that it is a movie which completely criticises AIADMK. In reality, it is not so. The film outrightly condemned both the parties as they are involved in practising cash for votes and delivering freebies. The film argues for an alternative paradigm to the existing political party framework of politics.
Deeper democratic values are highlighted in a simple way to the public. Since Sun Pictures was involved in the production, DMK kept quiet. Of all the fan clubs, Vijay fan club has got a higher number of young people. He has a huge following. He takes a different line, unlike Kamal and Rajinikanth. He took an open stand against the Central government and the state government. When GST was welcomed by all cinema actors, he was the only person who opposed it. Kamal and Rajini both are old compared to him. Yet, he indicates that he will enter into politics. This creates fear among political parties. Whenever Vijay produces films of this sort, it is opposed by political parties sparking curiosity among the people and subsequently, a huge advertisement is given free of cost. This film also had the same fate but it succeeded by earning more than their expectation. This movie has to be recommended by the Election Commission to be screened all over the country in the respective regional languages for the benefit of the public. The Election Commission has repeatedly made it clear that it faces the problem of cash for votes in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu. In this context, this film is a good example to create awareness among the people about the value of votes. The entire team has to be appreciated. It is an excellent movie to create electoral awareness among people. It outrightly attacks all unethical electoral practices. It is one of the best political movies produced in the recent past in Tamil.
(The author is a former Professor and Rajiv Gandhi Chair for Panchayati Raj Studies, Gandhigram Rural Institute. The views expressed are strictly personal)